This week, on April 29, 2019, the President gave the Attorney General and the acting Secretary of Homeland Security 90 days to present regulations that would carry out his orders to process asylum applications and adjudicate within 180 days of filing. The regulations would set up a fee for asylum applications and set up a fee for employment authorization based on the asylum claim. The regulations would also prevent employment authorization to individual who entered or attempted to enter the United States unlawfully until the asylum application has been granted.
While these restrictions do not take effect immediately, they will significantly change existing asylum policies and present heavier burdens on asylum seekers. Many individuals flee the dangerous conditions of their home countries with nothing more than they can carry. These regulations create more obstacles on the most vulnerable to seek relief. Imposing a fee for the asylum application and for employment authorization could cause considerable delay for those wishing to apply. Many applicants for immigration benefits tend to delay submission for lack of funds or resources. Failing to meet the one-year deadline due to inability to pay will have a serious impact on their ability to submit affirmative asylum claims risking referrals to removal proceedings before an immigration court.
The inability to seek employment authorization while the application is pending creates additional economic hardship on the most vulnerable. Without work authorization, individuals would not be able to find gainful employment or obtain driver licenses. The policies of the administration make the path for asylum seekers overly burdensome and will greatly affect those most in need of protection and services.